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By providing a psychological account of affects and passions in terms of feeling and inclination, this chapter makes sense of Immanuel Kant's moral assessment of each. It offers some general overview of Kant's empirical psychology, and explains the psychology of affects and passions. Two key claims about affects and passions are present in Kant's earliest lectures on anthropology. Like affects, passions are illnesses of mind that shut out the sovereignty of reason, and just as affects prevent the comparison of one feeling with others, a passion is an inclination that prevents reason from comparing it with the sum of all inclinations in respect to a certain choice. With respect to Kant's seeming affirmation that one can be, to some degree, morally responsible for affects, one needs to distinguish between moral responsibility for actions motivated by affects, and responsibility for the affects themselves.
Throughout his life, Kant was concerned with questions about empirical psychology. He aimed to develop an empirical account of human beings, and his lectures and writings on the topic are recognizable today as properly 'psychological' treatments of human thought and behavior. In this book Patrick R. Frierson uses close analysis of relevant texts, including unpublished lectures and notes, to study Kant's account. He shows in detail how Kant explains human action, choice, and thought in empirical terms, and how a better understanding of Kant's psychology can shed light on major concepts in his philosophy, including the moral law, moral responsibility, weakness of will, and cognitive error. Frierson also applies Kant's accounts of mental illness to contemporary philosophical issues. His book will interest students and scholars of Kant, the history of psychology, philosophy of psychology, and philosophy of action.